Inexorably, our overall record is climbing from profoundly abysmal to merely embarrassing. Next stop: Mediocrity. And after that: Good, perhaps? Were getting there. But against the spread is a different story. Havent solved the bet lines yet, and the record shows it. In 21 years on The Friday Page, our worst season mark against the betting number has been .449 (in 2006), so that is the ignominy to avoid. Hey, everybody needs a goal! [Thursday pick: Vikings (-6 1/2) over Buccaneers, 23-20].
Line: NYJ by 2.
Cotes pick: NYJ 19-16.
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).
Miami, off its bye week, has a big shot at a small upset in this high-amp rivalry because the Dolphins are fundamentally better on both lines, the fulcrum from which many a result turns. This is one of six Week 8 games that are virtual toss-ups, with betting spreads under three points. I see this as a tough task for Miami, though, a difficult place for Ryan Tannehill to taste his first division road game. Miami has lost eight of its past 11 on the road, and in the Jersey swamp the rookie QB will face temps in the 50s, a chance of rain and a (truly) hostile crowd. Rex Ryan will throw the kitchen sink at Tannehill maybe literally, knowing Rex and trust his pass defense, which is better than average even missing Darrelle Revis. The key will be Miamis stout run D vs. a Planes ground game that has lifted off with 359 rushing yards the past two games. Jets won in Miami, 23-20 (OT) in September, and the rematch looks just as tight, but, when in doubt, stay home.
Line: DEN by 6.
Cotes pick: DEN 34-30.
TV: 8:20 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).
Sharp acrimony and contention flew through the Game of the Week committee debate as proponents of Giants-Cowboys and Falcons-Eagles raised strident objections, but Saints-Broncos emerged. Why? Pure entertainment value in the prospect of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning passing for around 850 yards and 75 points. The prime-time cameras are here for just that, for star-power in two first-ballot future Hall of Famers. As for the result, Im liking Brees getting almost a touchdown but Im loving Manning straight up, at home and coming off a bye. Particularly when NAwlins defense has given up 2,793 yards the most allowed in the first six games by any team since 1950.
Line: PHI by 2 1/2.
Cotes pick: ATL 28-27.
TV: 1 p.m., Fox.
AAAWWWK! bellows the Upset Bird. Falcons win Bird Bowl. Bird Baawwk! I know what youre thinking. Why is this even an upset? Atlanta is the NFLs only unbeaten team! Yeah, fine, but it IS an upset based on the betting line. So there. I can see why Phils are favored. Both teams coming off byes, but Eagles are a surreal 13-0 after byes under Andy Reid. But I like Falcs because Matt Ryan has proved to be a very good road QB, and mostly because ATLs defense creates havoc. Indeed, the likelihood of turnover differential would weigh lopsidedly, concurs U-Bird. Likelihood of turnover differaaawwwk!